Thomas Billington, known famously as the Dynamite Kid, was one half of the tag team, the British Bulldogs along with Davey Boy Smith. Dynamite was also an integral part of the Junior Heavyweight division. This style of wrestling was commonly suited for wrestlers smaller in stature than those of the heavyweight division. The Junior Heavyweight genre was popularised in New Japan Pro Wrestling in the early 1980s. Dynamite competed regularly with New Japan, the place where his status as a legend began.
As a featured competitor of the Junior Heavyweights, Dynamite engaged in a series of legendary bouts with the original Tiger Mask for the Junior Heavyweight Championship. These matchups were unlike any other of its era as they established a fusion that was fast-paced and built on areal and technical submission. The Dynamite Kid-Tiger Mask matches were instrumental in pushing NJPW’s Junior Heavyweight division to what it’s become as well as globalising the genre, inspiring other promotions to create their own divisions that were based on this groundbreaking style.
“I discovered Dynamite when he came to Portland Wrestling from 1982 to ’83,” said Tony Kozina, the Head Trainer at Fale Dojo. “He made such a massive impact, he was able to turn the ever hated ‘Playboy’ Buddy Rose into a beloved fan favorite in a shocking turn of events,” shared Kozina, who was one of many wrestlers influenced by the Dynamite Kid.
“Everywhere he wrestled he created tons of excitement,” Kozina explained. “His presence in the ring gave me a shot of encouragement and confidence, seeing as he was a smaller wrestler, but so dominant!”
Dynamite and Davey Boy were former tag team champions in the WWE and Stampede Wrestling. During his time in the WWE Dynamite maintained his style and move set that he had honed while wrestling in New Japan. This made him a unique feature for the WWE as it afforded him a fan base that was drawn primarily to his wrestling ability as opposed to his peers whose fans were attracted to their characters or props.
Following his departure from the WWE in 1988, Dynamite returned to Stampede Wrestling and Japan. Dynamite was well-respected in Japan for his valuable contributions to the Japanese style. Due to injuries sustained in the ring, the Dynamite Kid took early retirement in 1996 as a result of the punishment he put his body through over the years. A pioneer and British legend, the Dynamite Kid helped revolutionise professional wrestling and inspired many others to pursue the sport. Without his influence, wrestling as we know today would look very different.
“Thank you for the sacrifice you made to your body, to give wrestling fans around the world something to talk about to this very day,” concluded Kozina. “From Calgary and Portland to the battles against Tiger Mask in Japan, and as part of The British Bulldogs in WWE, you were a once in a lifetime performer, like no other.”
RIP The Dynamite Kid
RIP. Senpai! pic.twitter.com/5EixE8oAei
— TheUnderboss (@TOKSFALE) December 5, 2018